Sonnet 18 is one of Shakespeare’s best-known and most beloved sonnets. It was first published in 1609 as part of Shakespeare’s collection entitled “A Lover’s Complaint.” This collection included 154 poems that were divided into three parts: “The Rival Poet,” “The Phoenix and Turtle,” and “Sonnets.”
The sonnet is written in the typical Shakespearean sonnet form: three quatrains followed by a couplet. The rhyme scheme is abab ccdd efef gg. The poem’s meter is iambic pentameter (pentameters are a line of verse containing five iambic feet).
Sonnet 18 is a procreation sonnet, one of a group of sonnets written by Shakespeare on the theme of procreation. In the sonnet, the speaker asks whether his love will survive the test of time. He says that while summer cannot last forever, it can be revived by memory or imagination once winter has passed. He then compares his love to all other things that fade with time—favorite books, old clothes, old friends—and concludes that only his beloved is eternal: “So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.”
This romantic sonnet is one of Shakespeare’s most famous works outside his plays and tragedies. It has been translated into many languages and set to music by several composers.